Posted by: Irene | December 9, 2009

Swimming Pool Safety

Water Safety in Arizona is justifiably a major concern.  Arizona has one of the highest children’s drowning rates in the nation with over 90 deaths since 2000!

Overlooked water dangers exist in your home in buckets and toilets.  A child can drown in as little as 2 inches of water, so empty buckets and bathtubs as soon as you leave them. Get a safety latch for your toilet to prevent young children from lifting the lid.

Empty wading pools as soon as you take the child out of them.

Barriers to the outdoors are your first line of protection.  Childproofing of sliding doors as well as securely locking all windows and placing hooks and eyes high on all doors are good deterrents.  Normal knobs and locks are well within reach of little hands.   Keep keys high and well out of reach.  Children can even exit a home thru a pet door, bet you didn’t think of that one!  Sliding doors in some Arizona communities, in homes with pools, are required to have a hydraulic automatic closing device and handles at the 5 ft level to deter children from leaving without supervision.

Never leave a child in the care of an older sibling around a pool.   Your child should be monitored by you or another adult at all times around a pool.   It takes but a few seconds of distraction by a ringing phone, a quick trip indoors, glancing thru a magazine or having a conversation with someone to create the setting for a child to drown.

The legal requirements will depend on the city, the age of the pool, the size and depth of the pool and the age of any children occupying the home.  The base State of Arizona regulation calls for a 5-foot minimum wall at least 20 inches from the waters edge, with no gaps or openings larger than 4 inches and horizontal bars with a minimum separation of 45 inches.  The gate must be self-closing and latching with latches at least 54 inches above ground level.  Windows in the home have regulations for lock height and type.

The regulations get more specific and detailed within each municipality.  A good fence company will comply with all of the regulations and advise you of upgrades for additional safety if the basic requirements in your city are minimal.

If you do not have children, but have a pool, you will still be required to have locks and barriers on your gates and doors to prevent neighborhood children from entering your yard.  If you only occasionally have a child in your home you may find that removable mesh fencing is for you. It too has regulations for size and strength.     Pool covers must be able to resist weight limits of several hundred pounds on their surface as well as other stringent safety regulations.  Be many times more watchful around your pool if you have only an occasional child visiting.

There are many products that can be added to your security measures.  There are infrared motion detectors, equipment that detects a change in the water surface movement, sirens for the gate and many other hi-tech devices.   These do not ever substitute for constant supervision and should not be depended on for a primary barrier, merely as an addition to an already good security system.

Additional pool safety steps that are easy to take include learning CPR. Check with the Phoenix Firefighters Union at (602) 277-1500 for a schedule of classes.   Post those CPR instructions close to your pool.  Keep a cell phone near the pool to call 911.  Keep lifesaving equipment such as a pole, life preserver and rope in the pool area.  Remove all toys from inside the pool-fenced area that might tempt a child to enter.  Keep all chairs, tables and other objects away from the exterior of your fence. They might give a child a boost up to reach a lock.  Keep all tables and objects that are inside the pool away from your fence, a little foot will use anything it can find to help climb that fence!

A very recent TV news program showed just how inventive a couple of  2 and 3 year olds could be in their attempts to get into the pool with a mom just a few feet away talking to a neighbor and her back to the pool.   Paramedics were inside watching with the TV camera crew and the other mothers as the children played.  One little girl in a diaper shimmied up the fence and unlocked the lock at the top! At another location a toddler pulled a child’s table from the grass play area over to the fence to act as his ladder.  Mothers and viewers were totally amazed and terrified by the ingenuity of these children.

Swim lessons are available all over the valley.  But never let the fact that a child can swim in a class lull you into believing they are safe by the pool, it is merely one more addition to your pool security measures.   Here are few numbers for lesson info:

• Phoenix: (602) 262-6541
• Mesa: (480) 644-2351
• Glendale: (623) 930-2820

This website will have a more complete list of contacts for each cities regulations:

The rules for each city within the state are not the same.  If your city has no regulation the Maricopa County and the Arizona State regulations govern it.

At the time you write a contract to purchase a home we will give you a brochure created by the AZ Association of Realtors, which has a list of the state and city regulating office numbers.     We will, in addition, give you a copy of the most recent regulations for the State, County and your city which we will ask you to read and initial.   We are very concerned with this problem and one of our most fervent wishes is that no one we sell a pool home to will ever lose a child by drowning.


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